Is college or pro football the heart and soul f the game?

What do you all think represents the heart and soul of top football?

To me its college.
Its cheaper than the pros especially at non-division I schools.
Its more often to have a “local boy” playing.
You can say “I went to … University”.
Then there are the great traditional songs like “On Wisconsin”. Not “On Dallas Cowboys”. The KC Chiefs fighting song actually was stolen from the song done by the Florida Seminoles.

Plus pro teams come and go whatever the owners want. In LA the Rams left but the UCLA Bruins arent going anywhere.

College football is a farce. Teams making their own schedules? Paying out piles of cash to some no-name school in order to tally a 60 point win? Determining who gets to the playoffs with polls and computer programs (which, believe it or not, is a giant step past determining the actual champion with polls and computer programs)? It’s barely even a sport.

NFL, by miles and miles.

Questions involving “the heart and soul” of football are inevitably asked by fans of college football. It’s something they’ve told themselves for decades; that somehow accepting money to play football means you no longer have a heart or soul or some other nonsense like that.

I’ve always thought there was something a bit off about College and especially High school football, in that you have all these rabid fans putting all their hopes and dreams on the backs of children. There is a massive industry around what are basically still kids, there is something not right about that.

At least when the really nutty fans are roaring at fully professional grown men in the NFL or in the various soccer leagues you can say that the players know the deal and are getting well paid, but heaping pressure upon and roaring abuse at kids playing a game? Its not right.

The NFL sucks.

It’s a sports product engineered by big business and groomed to make the owners stupendously rich. Yes, the players go through another level of winnowing, and are basically the best of the best. I’ll admit that.

But the game itself is dull. Everyone runs the same offensive and defensive sets for the most part, all the players are pretty much the same skill level, and the league mercilessly cracks down on anything that would let a team or player really set themselves apart by being goofy or what-not.

The biggest, most interesting thing that the league has had to deal with lately (other than crippling brain damage, which they’re dodging) is whether or not Tom Brady and the Patriots slightly underinflated the footballs or not. There’s precious little drama involved.

Plus, the fan experience is just… insipid, relative to college football. EVERYBODY literally is a t-shirt fan. There’s not much year-to-year interest in the team that the coaches have put together- they don’t typically change that much. There’s no recruiting, there’s no bragging rights (not unless you’re a loser), there’s nothing much very interesting about being a pro football fan. There aren’t even any barriers to entry or exclusive nature to the fandom. ANYONE can be a pro football fan of whatever team they like.

College football is far better in terms of the fan experience. The skill levels of the players isn’t so high, and there’s a lot more variation among teams, but that’s part of the fun. You can see each team recruit unproven high school kids and see them develop over time, and due to players having a limited time that they’re eligible to pay, each year is a new team, and new dynamic, where a player can have an immediate and significant impact. Contrast this with pro football where even a Heisman Trophy winner is likely to ride the pine for a couple of seasons out of college.

The fan experience is far better as well. Many schools have 100+ years of traditions built up, and have uniforms that recall those early days. The fans do chants/yells that are odd and antiquated, they all wear their team’s colors, show up days in advance, hold huge tailgate parties, fervently pay attention to their team and conference’s recruiting, have intra-state rivals who basically determine who has bragging rights in the state. There’s all the drama and absurdity of the playoffs, AP/USA Today polls, and conference standings. There are trick plays, there are unknowns playing due to injuries, there are odd formations that some teams use to try and play to their advantages, or against their opponents’ weaknesses.

And it’s elitist I suppose, but there are barriers to entry. You can’t just up and decide you’re a Ohio State Buckeyes fan… not really anyway. You can buy the merchandise, put Urban Meyer’s photo on your wall, name your child Brutus, etc… but unless you went to Ohio State, you’re just a t-shirt fan.

No organized league is ever the heart and soul of any sport. The heart and soul of any sport is and always will be a bunch of friends who get together in a field and hold a pickup game.

If you think that all NFL offenses and defenses are the same, I would suggest you haven’t watched enough NFL football, and you certainly haven’t watched much college football, where almost every team except a few run the read/option. The play in the NFL is infinitely more complex and interesting than college, where the mantra isn’t “let’s outthink or outplay them”, but “lets hope the defense makes a mistake so we can move the ball”. The college game relies on taking advantage of the bad play by the worst player on the opposing team, and the physical advantage some teams have is simply insurmountable. The NFL is about the best of the best working against each other, without the massive disparate influence of a physically better team.

3 teams are in the running to move. One of the greatest QB’s of all time is getting older as you watch, yet his team is winning like crazy. Teams that were irrelevant a year ago, like the Vikings, Jets, and Rams are in the running, while the Seahawks and 49ers are struggling. A fired coach is playing against the team that fired him, two brothers were supposed to face off, there are more undefeated teams than ever, but nobody knows if some of them are for real, and a guy who blew his fingers off playing with firecrackers is starting to play again.

Again, you’re apparently not paying attention AT ALL. The NFL draft has become a huge topic, free agency means more movement by some of the best players every year, and no one has to sit out a year if they decide they want to change teams. And if you don’t think there are “Bragging rights”, I suggest you are now willingly ignoring reality.

Yes, in college football special athletes can make a huge difference in a short amount of time. That’s because the talent level is so fucking disparate in college that one or two stud athletes (or much more often, 2 or 3 less talented athletes) make all the difference. It’s about the physically more talented players beating up on the less physically talented. In the NFL, there aren’t many really special physical talents, so it’s not always about which team has the best athlete, it’s much more strategy, thinking on the fly, and being prepared.

Is this a common attitude among people who attended football schools? Because IME, in the parts of the country where college football is biggest, there are huge numbers of people who count themselves ardent fans without having personally attended. Then again, some of them have longer-standing ties to the extended college-town community than any alumnus.

I don’t think it’s possible to argue that the product on the field is better in college then in the NFL but I also don’t think it’s possible to argue that the fan experience is better in the NFL. Every time I go to athe pro game my reaction is the same - I should have stayed home and watched it on TV. That’s why they have broadcast blackout is to force people to accept the lesser experience. On the other hand I’ve been to 20+ different college stadiums around the country and just being at the game is a memerable experience. Go to see LSU pound some cupcake and don’t forget to bring your ear plugs because 102k people chanting in unison gets loud, there is no way to see that in the NFL. Or try going to see a Stanford game the number for tickets at stanford is 1-800-beat-cal that is true hatered. My mom graduated from cal 40 years ago and watches one football game per year, there is no NFL “rivalry” with that leval of hatred.

I don’t think the heart of football is on the field the players are rarely doing it for love of the game but it definitely in the stands and that is where college rules

Sure, college football is great if you don’t care about the actual game being played.


ISTM that if those are your criteria, high school football is superior to college football on all counts. I know you said “top” football, but I’m not sure what that would mean; if we’re talking about quality of play, the NFL is clearly so superior that it’s not even worth having a discussion.

I think the answer varies by region. Here in Chicagoland, we have hundreds of thousands of passionate and knowledgable football fans, almost all of whom care much more about da Bears than about their college team, and who sing the fight song with gusto when they go to games. In Florida, the college teams are huge and the pro teams struggle to fill their stadiums.

I don’t think it’s a common attitude, and I agree that living your whole life in a college town arguably makes you more connected to a team than spending four years there does.

In the last decade or so, my team, Oregon, has developed a large nationwide fan base of people who like innovation in offense and uniforms, but who may never have set foot west of the Mississippi. I literally can’t recall ever hearing a single alumnus or lifelong Oregonian complain about this development; rather, we’re stoked that it improves our ability to recruit. Maybe it’s different at schools that have a longer-established tradition of excellence.

In my opinion, one of the stupidest arguments in sports (and any other aspect of popular culture) is the one about who deserves to be considered a “true” fan. Who cares?

Agree. Even the strongest, best run professional sports organization (MLB?) does not embody the sport itself.

As for which of NCAA or NFL better illustrates the spirit of the game of football, I think it’s a tie. It also probably varies by region. In the South, I guess college football *is *football. In the Northeast, college football is kind of an afterthought to the NFL.

I’m new here. Where’s the Like button?

College football is pretty disgusting and if I could wave a wand and make one sport go away, that would be it. Given the chance to do something else with my Saturdays, I’ve put my money (time) where my mouth is and quit cold turkey since the beginning of the '14 season.

NFL football is pretty disgusting in mostly different ways, but it’s also an order of magnitude more interesting in both a competitive and a dramatic sense. Given the chance to do something else with my Sundays… I’ve dialed it back quite a bit, actually, but I’ll still schedule an entire day around a Patriots game and/or just hanging out with friends and watching games for six hours.

(My Sunday morning flag football league is, obviously, the true heart and soul of the game. Totally agree with Chronos there.)

Being an alum of the perennially ok but often not great Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and sharing a state with the U[sic]GA Bulldogs, I can see where it’s coming from.

Tech fans are fans because they went to Tech, feel a tie to the school, and have shared the struggle and successes of the football team with each other over the years.

Georgia fans are fans because they live in the same state and that team wins a lot. whoop.

There’s a lot of rivalry schools that have this saying, but as it goes “I’m wearing a Tech shirt because I went to Tech. You’re wearing that Georgia shirt because you went to Wal-Mart”.

Of course I am a little biased here (duh), but there is something to say for “I’m a fan of X because I went there (or a family member went there), and I’m no fair weather fan” as opposed to “Yea, they win a lot, I’m a fan of that. What, they have a losing record this year? Oops, must’ve lost the shirt” or “well, I happen to live in the same city, guess I’ll be a fan”.

Although, I agree with Barkis is Willin’ that it’s a regional thing.

As someone who has gotten completely bored with the NFL, I’d have to say college football. I also like the fact that I can see some absolutely bonkers offensive and defensive alignments in the college game. Heck, there are even some option teams. It makes the game far more interesting to me.

Since the origin of American Football (Gridiron) is at the collegiate level in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton, and the first recorded professional football didn’t evolve until almost 30 years later, I will say the heart and soul rests at the collegiate level.


It depends on what you mean by “top football.” It’s not professional, since the only attachment the players have with their teams is who drafted them, or where did they get traded to, or who offered them the best deal as a free agent. As for college, I would say the real “heart and soul” of football is between two teams with a long rivalry but no real national championship hopes. IIRC, the longest continuous rivalry is Lehigh vs. Lafayette, but they’re both FCS teams so I don’t know if you would call that “top football.”

The common method is to quote the post and put “+1” underneath it.

Usually, it’s the no-name schools that ask for the games against the big teams, as the money goes a big way towards paying for the schools’ other programs (every Division I school has to have at least 6 men’s sports and at least 7 women’s sports). In fact, when computers really did play a part in deciding who had a chance at the national championship, some big schools hesitated playing smaller ones as the weaker teams brought their computer ratings down.

Speaking of computers, except in the BCS days, computers have had no say in determining rankings. The four playoff teams are decided solely by a committee of 12 (it should be 13, but one dropped out) people now.

Agreed, I like the way that you look at it. I can’t believe the things that I hear at some of the High School games I have been to over the years. Keep, in mind some kids on the team are 14, with the majority being 16-17. The brain of a 16-17 year old is not even developed yet. Some of these parents need to relax a little.